Bustamante Serving Jail Sentence at Private, 20-Bed Facility

Pool photo by Michael Goulding

Former Santa Ana City Councilman and ex-Orange County executive Carlos Bustamante in court in May 2014.

Former Orange County Public Works executive and Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante is serving his one-year sentence at Montebello City Jail, a privately-operated facility where inmates pay to serve their sentence away from the general prison population.

The former rising star of the Orange County Republican Party pled guilty last December to felony counts of stalking, sexual battery by restraint, as well as misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment, assault and attempted sexual battery of several women who worked with him at OC Public Works.

He also pled guilty to charge of a grand theft by false pretense relating to a reimbursement he received from the county.

Bustamante’s stay at the Montebello City Jail was confirmed in an email, with the subject line “High-profile self-pay applicant,” that was filed in court documents and approved by a judge. He began serving his sentence on February 26.

The District Attorney’s Office agreed to allow Bustamante to do his time at the jail out of concerns for his safety, according to his attorney Brent Romney, who has pointed to Bustamante’s history as a former police officer and Santa Ana city councilman. Romney did not return requests for comment.

In addition to one year in jail and five years of probation, Bustamante will be a registered sex offender for life.

Bustamante is not the only disgraced Orange County public official to serve time at the Montebello City Jail. In 2007, former Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo paid to serve his one-year sentence for a corruption conviction at the facility.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it cost Jaramillo a $100 processing fee and $75 a day to stay at the private jail, where inmates are allowed one electronic device.

A spokesperson for the Montebello City Jail could not be reached for comment.

Geo Group, the company that operates the Montebello City Jail, says it runs 104 correctional facilities around the world. The company was recently under scrutiny after an audit by the Department of Justice found financial mismanagement and staffing deficiencies at an immigration detention facility in Texas.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.